I have had the distinct pleasure of watching my readership on World of Flying grow daily, and am continually amused with the amount of new traffic that comes from all over the world. Because of these new readers, I thought it was the right time to give the world a new look at the one major project that has dominated my life for the last eight years.
My legacy readers will know that in 2000, I began a quest to bring the story of Jerrie Mock to the public. If you read my AOPA Pilot Magazine story about Jerrie and her airplane, N1538C, you'll already know she was the first woman to fly solo around the world. I discovered that this historic feat had somehow slipped through the cracks of aviation history, but it wasn't until I visited Washington, D.C that I knew that someone had to do something to get this story told.
Here's an excerpt from that AOPA Pilot Magazine story:
The Story of Three-Eight Charlie - I didn't choose this project, it chose me.Fast-forward to today, and you'll find me still out there trying to find a way to get this movie made and this story told. I have never wanted to do it for the money or fame, it has always been simply to fix what I call a "malfunction" of aviation history. I have tried just about every method a screenwriter can use to get his project noticed in Hollywood, but so far a major producer, director or "A" list actor has not signed on.
A chain of events in early 2000 led me to that conclusion, and I've never regretted taking on the task of "reintroducing" Jerrie Mock to the world. Here is the way I got from there to here...
I checked Mock's book, Three-Eight Charlie, out of the library, and was floored by the eloquent way the author brought the reader into the cockpit with her as she worked through endless aviation hassles and challenging situations.
After reading the book, I was inspired to find her airplane, the Spirit of Columbus, N1538C, or just "Charlie" to its pilot, on a trip to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, D.C. I expected to see Charlie hanging prominently next to Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, and was shocked to find Mock's airplane being stored far from public view in one of NASM's warehouses, its wings removed and stashed between the landing gear.
If airplanes could talk, then Charlie was talking to me that day, asking to be set free. I stood and stared, as if some kind of weird presence was drawing me into this story. Somehow I let myself drift past the rope separating the artifacts from the public, and standing there in some sort of hypnotized trance, I found myself touching Charlie's red-and-white fuselage.
NASM security was not amused.
Back at my home airport, I found no one who had ever heard of Jerrie Mock, or what she had accomplished in 1964. Even more surprising was the fact that no movie had ever been made about her historic journey.
So I looked her up, and explained my lofty plan to rekindle national interest in her accomplishments, if for no other reason than to see Charlie in the NASM. I convinced her that a feature film should be made, and as an experienced aviation writer, I could write the script and get Hollywood interested. And as a fellow aviator, I promised to give her story the attention to detail and accuracy it deserved.
For 41 years, Mock refused to release the movie rights. But in September 2004, she and I inked a Life Story Rights Agreement allowing me to write and develop the screenplay Three-Eight Charlie. It is now my dream that someone in the film industry with the heart of an aviator will discover the project and join my crusade to bring this adventure to the big screen.
But the past two weeks, I have had a revelation of sorts. I have watched with admiration as one of my two step-sons has been working in our studio on the marketing proposal for a feature film he and his Los Angeles partners are pitching to some very interested investors. In his many varied capacities in the film biz, Scott has learned a great deal, and I am in awe of what he brings to the table. The one take-away I have learned though is this:
I have always wanted to make "Three-Eight Charlie" as a feature film because that would be the best way to reach the most viewers. But making a feature film – especially a period piece that takes place in several countries around the world – will be expensive. In watching an experienced producer line everything out, I am now 100% sure that the life story of Jerrie Mock can be brought to theaters someday, as long as the seed money to start the ball rolling magically appears from the heavens.What I need to make this happen is clear to me now:
Out there somewhere is an aviator or executive (or both?) who has lived a successful life and has become ridiculously wealthy...so much so that they could never spend it all if they tried. I'm talking Bill Gates wealthy. If this person were to fall in love with this story as I have – they could be aviation history's hero by attaching themselves and their commitment of funding to this film. It doesn't have to be all the millions, but enough to make a industry lender take this project seriously. Once this seed money is in place, we could attract the kind of "A" list actor that could play Jerrie and bring in the box office numbers to see a profit. This would attract an "A" list director, and once we have initial funding and a couple of big names attached, Three-Eight Charlie begins to make sense on paper.Will the money to make this film a reality ever materialize? I am positive that it will, and then we can all push forward and make Jerrie Mock and her 1964 flight as important to aviation history as Lindbergh's trip to Paris. And with an Amelia Earhart movie already in the pipeline, it will be such a shame to see cineplexes across America full of people watching the wrong movie.
Three-Eight Charlie is the movie they should be watching – the aviation community knows that – because Jerrie Mock actually made it around the world as the first lady to complete that massive mission solo. The fact that Hollywood has not yet figured out the bankability of such an enormous feat remains a mystery to me.
If you know of anyone in the film industry – or maybe that one aviator that is sitting on a mountain of cash – please be sure to aim them at the project web site, found here.
Together, we can all right this wrong and give Jerrie her due.